Reflecting on Professional Skill Development - DAC 309

General Information


Assignment Details

Student Example


General Information

Instructor: Jill Tomasson Goodwin

Class: DAC 309: User Experience Design

Class size: 23

The text boxes briefly describe how the activity incorporates characteristics of high quality high impact practices (Kuh, G. D., O’Donnell, K., & Reed, S., 2013).


DAC 309 focuses on designing a compelling user experience of a mobile Augmented Reality (AR)/ interactive print application, by completing, over the 12 week term a full design cycle.  Within their ePortfolio, each student completes a series of guided reflections to help them reflect on and articulate the professional skills they are developing throughout the course.

The professional skills include research/ writing/ interviewing/ presentation skills; meeting deadlines/ decision-making/ critical thinking skills; teamwork skills (being personally responsible to your group; communication with group members; leading group members).

The ePortfolio provides a private space for students to share with their instructor what they are learning in the course using examples from the coursework experience to demonstrate learning and explore associated thoughts and feelings.

Assignment Details

The following outlines the steps taken to guide the students through the assignment.

Assignment Template: Reflecting on Developing your Professional Skills

Step 1: Provide an Assignment Rationale

The assignment was introduced with this explanation.

Two recent research efforts on post-secondary education drive this assignment.  A 2013 US report, “More than a Major,” found that 93% of employers say “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major”; and more than 80% say an ePortfolio would be useful to them in ensuring that job applicants have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their company or organization.  And a Canadian researcher, Rob Shea, has found that graduating students have the required skills to enter the workforce, but that they need to articulate these skills to employers in a way that highlights such capabilities as the critical thinking, communicating clearly, and complex problem solving skills as identified in the American study.  This assignment asks you to reflect on, and articulate, your developing professional skills in this course.

Providing students with this information helps motivate them by showing real-world relevance.

Step 2: Provide an Assignment Overview

Among other skills and knowledge in this course, you are developing and enhancing ‘professional’ or ‘transferrable’ skills:

  • research/ writing/ interviewing/ presentation skills;
  • meeting deadlines/ decision-making/ critical thinking skills;
  • teamwork skills (being personally responsible to your group; communication with group members; leading group members).

Make the connection to transferable skills explicit.  Students often focus solely on content and fail to recognize the value of these professional skills.

In this assignment, you will be writing a series of reflections on the professional skills that you are developing over the term.  There are five in total, each one 500 words (2 single-spaced pages, not including supporting digital material.  Please boldface the professional skill words (outlined below) that you choose to reflect on, for my ease of reading.

Asking students to boldface  the professional skill words makes it easier for you to see and has the added advantage of encouraging the students to explicitly state the skill(s) upon which they are reflecting.

Reflection Topic Due Date
1 My First Impression Jan 12 (12:00 noon)
2 My Experience of the xxx course segment Feb 3
3 My Experience of the yyy course segment Mar 10
4 My Experience of the zzz course segment Mar 24
5 Moving Forward April 7

Provide periodic, structured opportunities for students to reflect and integrate learning.

Reflection Assignment Guidelines and Expectations

The reflection provides you with a safe space to share what you have learned in the course using examples from your experience of the coursework to demonstrate your learning and your thoughts and feelings about it.

Consider using such reflection expressions as:

  • I was surprised that . . .
  • I was pleased that . . .
  • I was disappointed that . . .
  • I already knew that . . .
  • I felt most successful as a learner or group member when . . .
  • I felt least successful as a learner or group member when . . .

Feel free to use digital material to support and illustrate your example (images, video, audio, files, and links).

Set performance expectations at appropriately high levels and communicate these clearly.

Reflection 1: My First Impression (Class One)

Part 1: What part of this first class stood out for you most?

Part 2: Review the course outline and your Skill Check Sheet and consider the following questions.  They are meant to prompt your response to the course, and for you to share with me what you are feeling confident about, and what you consider more challenging.

  • What technical skills (check sheet) do I have that I can bring to my group?
  • What technical skills would I like to develop this term?
  • What professional skills (see page 1) do I have that I can bring to my group?
  • What professional skills would I like to develop this term?
  • What assignments look familiar and manageable to me and why?
  • What assignments look more challenging or difficult to me and why?

Step 3: Make Explicit and Visible the Skills Students are Acquiring

Reflection 2/3/4: My Experience of the xxxx Course Segment

You used research, interview, and writing skills to complete the xxx assignment: you developed interview questions as a method of field research, conducted the face-to-face research interview with the high school student subjects, and you took this interview data to write the xxx document.

As well, while you worked with your group, you were developing these other professional skills:

  • meeting hard-stop deadlines: eg. submitting the xxx package, submitting revisions to your xxx interview questions; preparing all the ethics review materials for the interview day;
  • decision-making: eg. working through to the final set of interview questions, based on the goals of the assignment; weighing the pros and cons of the best questions, based on the interview time constraints and goals of the assignment; selecting the best questions;
  • critical thinking: eg. asking relevant questions of the interviewees during the interview; understanding and interpreting their statements and answers; drawing reasonable conclusions about their views;
  • teamwork skills:
  • being personally responsible to your group by agreeing to a workload division; working independently to meeting the assignment deadlines;
  • communicating with your group members by advocating for your opinion; listening to other members; giving constructive feedback; dealing with criticism; being flexible, etc.
  • leading group members by motivating other members; building consensus in your group, negotiating group tasks; dealing with conflict.

Reflect on your thoughts and feelings and the learning that has taken place:

·  What are your thoughts and feelings about the xxx course segment and your professional skills development, as outlined above?

·  In an example, what happened? What would you do the same?  Differently?

·  What did your group contract not address at this point in the course?

·  What do you plan to do to add/ refine the group contract now?

·  What stood out the most for you “about yourself” during this course segment?

·  How are you feeling about what you have learned?

Ground your thoughts and feelings in an example. To illustrate how you improved, describe a situation in this course segment when you used a professional skill to help your group complete the course assignment.

Reflection 5: Moving Forward

Imagine that you are applying to the job or the graduate school of your dreams. What would you say to your potential employer or write on the grad school application about the professional skills ­­ i.e. communication, leadership and teamwork ­­ you developed during this course?

Think of this as preparing for an interview: I’d like you to select a situation you experienced in the course to support your reflection on one of the broad categories of professional skills I’ve listed in this question.  What can you say improved?   In what way?  Have you used these skills in other situations or courses this term?

Provide opportunities to discover the relevance of learning through real-world applications.

Student Example

Providing frequent, timely and constructive feedback is an important characteristic of high quality, high impact practices. The following is an example of the detail of feedback provided to student reflections.

DAC 309 template for Professional Skill reflection:

[Feedback note from Instructor to student] -In this feedback, I'm dropping in your writing visually to show you whether you've completed a reflection on a situation that is specific and thorough.  I've highlighted in yellow if you are short on the amount of writing that would be a fulsome illustration of the situation, to guide your future entries.



ePortfolio Marking Rubric – adapted from the Association of American Colleges and Universities Value rubric for integrative learning


Excellent (A Range) 4

Average (B Range) 3 Average (B Range) 2 Below Average (C Range) 1
Connections to Experience Meaningfully synthesis connections among experiences outside of the classroom (including life experiences and academic experiences such as co-op and summer jobs) to deepen understanding of fields of study and to broaden own point of view. Effectively selects and develops examples of life experiences, drawn from a variety of contexts (e.g., family life, artistic participation, work experience), to illuminate concepts/ theories/ frameworks of fields of study. Compares life experiences and academic knowledge to infer differences, as well as similarities, and acknowledge prospectives other than own. Identifies connections between life experiences and those academic texts and ideas perceived as similar and related to own interests.
Integrated Communication Fulfills the assignment(s) by choosing a format, language or graphs (or other visual representation) in ways that enhance meaning, making clear the interdependence of language and meaning, thought, and expression. Fulfills the assignment(s) by choosing a format, language or graph (or other visual representation) to explicitly connect content and form, demonstrating awareness of purpose and audience. Fulfills the assignment(s) by choosing a format, language or graph (or other visual representation) that connects in a basic way what is being communicated (content) with how it is said (form). Fulfills the assignment(s) (i.e. to produce an essay, poster, a video,a Power- Point presentation, etc) in an appropriate form.
Reflection and Self-Assessment Envisions a future self (and possibly makes plans that build on past experiences) that have occurred across multiple and diverse contexts. Evaluates changes in own learning over time, recognizing complex contextual factors (e.g., works with ambiguity and risks, dealing with frustration, considers ethical framework). Articulates strengths and challenges (within specific performances or events) to increase effectives in different contexts (through increasing self-awareness). Describes own performances with general descriptors of success and failure.

For more information about this activity, please contact Jill Tomasson Goodwin or Katherine Lithgow.

Developed by Jill Tomasson Goodwin and shared with permission.